Messenger file photo by Travis Greene
By Daniel Boyette/al.com
When Etowah High’s DeRickey Wright was asked to play defense last season, he had no idea the doors that would open as a result.
Wright, who was the Blue Devils’ quarterback two years ago as a sophomore, excelled as a two-way starter in 2018. He returned three of his six interceptions for touchdowns, scored a TD on a fumble return, broke up six passes and made 54 tackles in helping Etowah post a 12-1 record and an undefeated regular season, win the Class 5A, Region 6 championship and a second straight berth in the state quarterfinals. Etowah outscored the opposition by a per-game average of 32 to 9 while posting five shutouts.
Wright was named to the Alabama Sports Writers Association’s Class 5A first team at defensive back.
Colleges took notice.
During the first week of December, Wright received his first Power Five offer from Nebraska and his first SEC offer from Vanderbilt. The recruiting explosion carried over into the new year, and Wright’s 17th scholarship offer came from Alabama while he attended the Crimson Tide’s junior day on Feb. 16.
“I was shocked, because I never expected to be as big of a recruit as I’ve become,” Wright said. “This was my first year being on defense. I was getting their attention. All of it just hit me. I was shocked, but I was also happy about it, because it’s something that you dream of.”
The offers continued to flow in – LSU, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Notre Dame, Tennessee, Kentucky and Texas A&M – but Wright opted to commit to Alabama on March 28.
“I felt refreshed,” said Wright, who was recruited by Alabama as a safety. “It was an amazing feeling.”
Wright told Alabama receivers coach Holmon Wiggins about his decision the day prior to publicly announcing his commitment. Wright spoke to head coach Nick Saban the following day.
“It has been a dream of mine to go to Alabama or Auburn,” Wright said. “I really fell in love with Alabama when I went there, and it’s a place I really wanted to go. I wanted to go ahead and knock the commitment out and be part of the Crimson family. As soon as I committed, another commit (Calera defensive tackle) Jayson (Jones), texted me. We’ve got a group chat and we keep in touch.”
Wright said that he is undecided on if he’ll take official visits to other schools.
Wright is rated four stars and the No. 16 athlete for the Class of 2020 by 247Sports. Rivals has him at three stars and the No. 57 athlete. Wright was listed at 6-foot-4, 208 pounds for last year’s All-State nominations; 247Sports has him listed at 220. That’s a similar build to former UA safeties Hootie Jones (6-2, 215), Ronnie Harrison (6-3, 214) and Mark Barron (6-2, 218).
Wright was part of an Etowah defense last season that included Nebraska defensive end signee Jamin Graham and Vanderbilt safety signee Justin Harris.
Wright is unsure how he’ll be utilized on offense as senior. Rising junior Brady Troup took over as the full-time quarterback midway through last season, which allowed Wright to play some at receiver.
Etowah also has a new head coach in John Holladay, who came to the Blue Devils following two seasons at Tuscaloosa County.
According to Wright, Holladay’s message was, “Wherever we need you, we’re going to put you there.”